Confronting the Reality of Sexual Assault in the Church, Part 1

| December 28, 2018

Scandals regarding sexual abuse in various religious denominations have dominated much of the news cycle in 2018. Catholic and Protestant churches have both been put under scrutiny for sexual misconduct, and many allegations directed against church leaders have surfaced in the past year.

Victims of abuse are coming forward to share their stories, and hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in the church have been unearthed. Many churches have opted to stay quiet in the face of these allegations, hoping that the storm will pass and they can simply move on.

But silence is a mistake. The reality of sexual abuse in the church should not be ignored. It cannot be ignored.

Instead, this problem needs to be confronted head on.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

The sins that people in power have committed through the church cannot be undone or negated, but forgiveness can be obtained by the acknowledgement of these allegations.

According to a Gallup poll, only 37 percent of Americans have a “high/very high” trust in clergy – the lowest since 1977, when Gallup first began polling this issue. Clergy members, who should be looked up to as the pinnacle of truth and morality, are falling in esteem, and the church’s lack of transparency with these sexual assault allegations has probably contributed to this drop in trust.

Without trust between church leaders and congregation members, a church cannot function. If the church is unwilling to step up and acknowledge that it is not a perfect institution, it will in all probability crumble.

The church must confess its shortcomings before trust can be rebuilt between churches and their congregants. Honesty and openness are the only things that can rebuild that trust.

Clergy members are often expected to set a prime example for their congregants, but the example they must set in 2018 is not one of perceived perfection, but of an acknowledgement of imperfection. Until that happens, healing between the church and its people will not take place.

Part 2 of this article can be found here.